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Bible Commentaries

Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms

Psalms 111

Verses 1-10

Psalms 111:1-10.

V. 1. This Psalm consists of as many short metres, as there are letters in the Hebrew alphabet, and in their regular order ; so that " Hallelujah" could not be a part of the first verse, as that word begins with the fifth letter of the alphabet. It should, therefore, in general be considered as a title to the Psalms which begin with it ; pointing out the scope to the reader, and calling on him to prepare his heart for praising God. The word rendered " assembly," signifies a secret council, or company. In the Book of common prayer, it is rendered, : ’ Secretly among the faithful, and in the congregation." I will make my thankful acknowledgments to the LORD ...with all my heart and soul; and that, not only in the private society of those good men, whom I am more intimately acquainted withal ; but in the publick congregation of all his people.’ Bp. Patrick. (Marg. Ref.)

V. 2, 3. The works of God, in creation and providence, are grand displays of his power and majesty ; and all who take pleasure in meditation on the divine perfections will, as they have opportunity, bestow pains to understand his works. (Notes, Psalms 92:4-7 - Psalms 104:34-35. Psalms 107:33-43. Hosea 14:9.) But especially the work of Redemption, is " beauty and glory ; " being the display of his everlasting righteousness, in harmony with his mercy, and truth, and wisdom, in pardoning, justifying, and saving sinners.

(Notes, Is. 51. 4- 8. Daniel 9:24.)

V". 4. " He hath appointed a memorial for his wonderful works." This is a literal translation of the clause. It is probable, that the passover was specially meant ; though all the appointed feasts of Israel were memorials of the wonderful works of God for that nation. (Notes, Exodus 13:8-10. Joshua 4:3-9. P. O.) Our Redeemer appointed a memorial of his wonderful grace and compassion in dying for our salvation, when he instituted the Lord’s supper, saying, " Do this in remembrance of me. ’

(Notes, Matthew 26:26-28. 1 Corinthians 11:23-28.) See. Marg. Rcf. 1: Note Psalms 103:6-8, Psalms 5:8 & 4

V. 5. Meat.] Prey, (marg.) or a portion. ’ God hath ’ given to his people all that was necessary for them ; and ’ will do still even for his covenant’s sake; and in this sense ’ the Hebrew word is taken, Proverbs 30:8; Proverbs 31:15. ’ He gave them food, even manna, which recalled God’s ’ other wonders to remembrance : whence it was ordered ’ to be preserved in the ark. Exodus 16:32. It was a figure of the eucharis, which truly is an eternal monument of ’ divine love.’ Bossuet in Bp. Home. I must however observe on this remark of a learned and eloquent popish prelate, that as the manna was only a figure, so the eucharis is no more than a sign of the thing signified, and a pledge to assure the believing communicant of the blessings thus represented to him. Manna prefigured, and the eucharis commemorates, Christ, " the Bread of Life, who came " down from heaven," and died on the cross, that he might give life unto the world. (Notes, John 6:28-58.)

V. 6- 8. The power of the works, by which the Lord put Israel in possession of Canaan, was displayed in judgments on his enemies, and in fulfilling his faithful promises to his people, according to those appointments, or decrees, which be had made sure and established for ever, and which in due time he most punctually accomplished. ’ All his orders of either kind ’ (that is, whether of mercy or judgment,) ’ are in pursuance of most righteous decrees.’ Bp. Patrick. The word rendered " commandments," seems in this connexion to mean, the purposes and revelations, which God had made concerning Israel, which were performed when he put them in possession of Canaan : but these were only shadows of his purposes and promises to the true Israel, the church of the redeemed.

(Note, Hebrews 12:22-25; v: 23.)

V. 9, 10. The Israelites were slaves in Egypt, but God " sent redemption " to them. " He gave Egypt for their " ransom," and rescued them by his almighty arm ; according to the covenant which he had established with Abraham, and which could not be disannulled. (Notes, Psalms 130:7-8. Exodus 15:13. Nehemiah 9:8. Is. 43: 3, 4. 63. 7- 14. Luke 1:67-75.) Thus he displayed his holy name, and shewed that, as his enemies had abundant cause to tremble at his power, so his people ought to " serve him " with reverence and godly fear." And indeed this " fear " of the LORD is the beginning " or principal part, of true wisdom, and makes way for the attainment of all the rest.

(Notes, Psalms 112:1. Genesis 22:11-12; Genesis 5:12. Job 28:13-28, v. 28. Prov. I -7. Ecclesiastes 12:11-14; Ecclesiastes 5:13.) ’ "The " fear of God " is the first step to salvation, as it exciteth ’ the sinner to depart from evil, and to do good, to implore ’ pardon, and to sue for grace, to apply to a Saviour for ’ the one, and to a Sanctifier for the other. Religion is ’ the perfection of wisdom, practice the best instructor,

’ and thanksgiving the sweetest recreation.’ Bp. Home. " A good understanding is to them who practice these " things : His praise endureth for ever." Those who do these things will praise God for ever ; or they will be honoured for ever. (Marg. Ref.) Reverend. (9) The same word is often rendered terrible, (Ps Nehemiah 1:5.) One, whom all have cause to fear and reverence with holy awe. (Notes, Psalms 47:1-3, Psalms 5:2. Hebrews 12:26-29; v: 29.)


Exhortations should always be seconded by example, if we would render them effectual. In worshipping God, we should be careful to approve our hearts sincere before him, and to have our affections lively. We ought also to be avowed in our grateful praises, and present them in the select companies of upright believers, and in the great congregations which assemble for publick worship : for this has a powerful tendency to make known his glory, and to animate and edify his people. At the first glance, we may perceive a majesty and greatness in all the works of God ; and there is nothing mean or trivial to be any where discovered in them. And if we have any taste for sublimity, grandeur, and beauty, we shall take peculiar pleasure in investigating the works of creation and providence ; and in admiring the discoveries, which are made, of the divine wisdom, power, and goodness, in every one of them, the minute as well as the immense. But without a relish for the spiritual excellency of true holiness, we shall not find abiding satisfaction in looking into the greatest and most wonderful of all the works of God : nor shall we deduce profitable conclusions from any of our investigations, or learn from them to love, trust, and serve the Lord, with joy and gratitude ; and then, how incapable must we remain of the employment and happiness of heaven ! Indeed the administration of his universal kingdom is honourable : " the " ministration of condemnation and death itserf is glorious; " but the ministration of righteousness and of the Spirit ex" ceeds in glory." (Note, 2 Corinthians 3:7-11.) This is the fullest display of all his harmonious attributes, which JEHOVAH has ever made: his everlasting righteousness here shines forth, connected with the exercise of boundless mercy ; and being " gracious, and full of compassion," he has here " made his wonderful works to be had in remembrance." (Notes,Psalms 85:10-13. Luke 2:8-14. Ephesians 2:4-10; Ephesians 3:9-12. 1 Peter 1:10-12.) As the Israelites subsisted on the manna, so the great Redeemer has given his flesh for the life of the world ; and while he sustains our souls in so wonderful a manner, he will not starve our bodies, or our families. If the Lord, " being mindful of " his covenant " with Abraham, " shewed his people the " power of his works, that he might give them the herit" age of the heathen ; " lie will shew his true people, who are interested in the covenant of grace, greater things, that he may put them in possession of their heavenly inheritance. The works of his hands are wrought in performance of his promises, or in executing his threatenings ; " and are done in verity and judgment. ’ As his holy law is established on an immutable basis ; so all his commandments, given for the salvation of his people, are sure, and ’ stand fast for ever," being " done in truth and upright" ness." Having sent his people a redemption of a far nobler nature, than that of Israel out of Egypt ; he has ratified his covenant with them for ever, by his irrevocable word. His name is holy and terrible ; and as sinners tremble before him, so saints should stand in awe of his infinite Majesty. " The fear of the Lord is the beginning of " wisdom." No man is wise who does not fear him, and no man acts wisely except as he is influenced by that fear : this will always lead us to repentance, to faith in Christ, and to watchful and conscientious obedience. Those who act in this manner, are of a good understanding, however poor, unlearned, or despised they may be in the world : and as;God will be praised and glorified in and by them for ever, so will they be honoured of him, and commended for their wisdom by their fellow-servants, for ever and ever.

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Bibliographical Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 111". Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. 1804.